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The Mysterious Inverted Tower and its connection to the Knights Templar

Updated: 22 hours ago

Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra, is one of the most visited places in this beautiful medieval town. Here its great attraction, apart from the beautiful labyrinthine gardens, is an Initiation Well, a breathtaking place that celebrates its historical connection to the mysterious Knights Templar.

Iniciatic well, quinta da regaleira

This fairy-tale property is part protected area of the UNESCO World Heritage landscape, Quinta da Regaleira is a perfect blend of Gothic, Egyptian, Moorish and Renaissance architecture. But it is what lies beneath its gardens that really sets the property's design apart. A pair of wells, called the Initiation Well and the Imperfect Well, the former 30 metres high with several landings that spiral down into the depths of the earth, the second, smaller with no stairs or landings, rustic and rudimentary but also full of symbolism, both like inverted towers. The wells were never used to collect water. Instead, they were part of a mysterious initiation ritual within the tradition of the Knights Templar.

After king Alfonso Henriques conquered Sintra and in gratitude to the Knights Templar, the king donated several plots of land to the Order, including the land where Quinta da Regaleira now stands and where initiation rituals for the Order of the Temple were held at the time.

Carvalho Monteiro

Millionaire Monteiro

Quinta da Regaleira has had many owners over the decades, but it was António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro, at the time one of the richest men in Portugal at the turn of the 20th century, who made the estate what it is today.

Carvalho Monteiro was born in Rio de Janeiro, the son of Portuguese parents who brought him to Portugal at an early age. He inherited a large family fortune which multiplied in Brazil with the monopoly of the coffee and precious stones trade. He studied at the University of Coimbra and was the owner of one of the best private libraries in the country and also had a deep interest, and possibly was an initiate of the Templar Masonry, due to the fact that he was also a great connoisseur of the Masonic and Templar symbology.

gardens quinta da regaleira

Although the group is believed to have disbanded 700 years ago, certain groups, like the Masons, revived the rituals and traditions of the medieval group centuries later. With the architect and set designer Luigi Manini, Carvalho Monteiro created between 1904 and 1910 a building full of pagan and Christian symbolism.

It is believed that the Templar initiations at Quinta da Regaleira began with candidates entering blindfolded into the so-called Initiation Well. Holding a sword close to their heart, they would descend nine flights of stairs - a number that represents the nine founders of the Order of the Temple, as there would be eight knights and a master.

On reaching the bottom of the well, the candidate would enter a dark labyrinth, representing entry into darkness and where symbolically and literally they would find the way to the light, for without darkness there is no light. If they manage to cross the tower of the well and enter the light of the Sun, the initiates would walk on the stones in the water to reach the chapel, where they would be received into the brotherhood, thus concluding the ritual.

Iniciatic well, Quinta da Regaleira

These Templar initiations have long since ceased to take place at Quinta da Regaleira due to the sheer mass of visitors. Visitors are welcome and invited to follow in the footsteps of the candidates of the past, experiencing a journey through the tunnels, the hidden myths and the History of Portugal. This is one of the stopping places on our tours for those visiting Sintra.

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